Posts filed under ‘The Media’

Being Biracial

Biracial is defined as someone who has parents from two races; for instance they may have a black mother and a white father, or an asian mother and a black father etc. [I’ll mainly be talking about those who are mixed with black and white, but there’ll also be mentions of other mixes]

People are used to being categorized as one race, and in a country like America, there has been rules to keep things that way; the most common being the One Drop Rule. It stated that if you were partially black (whether you’re 1/2, 1/4. 1/8 or even 1/16) you were still considered black. This meant that even if someone looked white but had a black great grandmother, they would be considered black and at the time, not be accepted by the white race [in America] It’s because of such rules that there have been constant debates on what to classify biracial people like Halle Berry, Lou Jing and Barack Obama.

As well as black people having various complexions, certain aspects can come out stronger from one parent, meaning biracial people vary in appearance. Believe it or not, the following people are all of the same mix (one black parent & one white parent):

Jael (ANTM contestant)    Emily King (Singer)

Charley Uchea                                     Slash (Musician)
(Big Brother UK Contestant)

Lenny Kravitz (Singer)              Rashida Jones (Quincy Jones’ daughter)

As you can see, some of them look mixed while others only look black (Charley Uchea) or only look white (Jael or Rashida Jones). Although I’m not biracial myself, I know many people who are. While many of them embrace both of the races, just as many prefer one half of themselves, leading them to be ashamed of the other half if not deny it completely.

This could be for many reasons [not only with those I know, but generally], one is discrimination they face from friends and even family. Many within the black community automatically dislike them for stupid reasons; they assume that those who are biracial think they are better than them because their skin is lighter etc. when most of the time, that is not true.

Many within the white and Asian community don’t approve of biracial people, especially if they’re half black, and they’re not afraid to admit it. That’s how derogatory terms such as “half breed” developed (just look at what happened to Lou Jing)

Another reason is their perceptions of the denied race is based on either a bad experience or stereotypes. Say a biracial girl (black and white) was only in contact with the white side of her family and the only exposure to black people she had was the negative perceptions of us as rapists, gangsters, drug dealers etc. through the media. Not only could she deny her black side, but she may try and do anything she can when she’s older to not associate herself with black people, even if that means talking in a certain way, listening to a certain type of music, or even straightening her hair and bleaching her skin to look more white.

She may even be forced to deny one side. On the Tyra Banks show singer Kimberley Locke spoke about how in High School her black friends tried to make her choose one side of her as they believed she couldn’t be both black and white. Although she refused to choose between the two, that’s unfortunately not the case for many other biracial people in the same position. Many are proud of only one when they really should be proud of both. Being biracial doesn’t make them “dirty” or “unpure”, if anything it makes them more diverse and unique.
If they’re surrounded by those who don’t accept them for who they are, then they’re not the people they should associate with, there are millions of people out there who will embrace their mixed heritage.

January 10, 2010 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Addressing The Misconceptions of Vegetarianism

The following are general misconceptions or stereotypes about vegetarians. These are the main ones I know about, meaning there are probably more that won’t be addressed.

1. We don’t get enough protein
This seems to be one of the most common misconceptions about vegetarians.
The list of foods is too long for me to put on here w/o going over my word limit, so [click here] for the list. Meat may be an easy source of protein, but it isn’t the only source. Just like oranges aren’t the only source of Vitamin C. There are probably those who aren’t getting enough protein, however that’s down to a bad diet, it has nothing to do with the fact they are vegetarian. If you look at the list of foods containing protein, you’ll see that vegetarians have more than enough ways to get the amount they need. Whether they choose to eat those foods or not in the right quantities is up to the individual.

2. We are pale, weak, super skinny and malnutritioned
People’s body have a certain build due to things like metabolism or genetics, it has nothing to do with whether they do or don’t eat meat. People cut out a certain item of food rather than a whole food group when not eating meat, meaning that those who become vegetarians have pretty much the same body type they had when they ate it [unless they purposely gain or lose weight]. I personally haven’t become any skinnier, my weight has remained the same. This also applies to those that I’ve seen/known to also be vegetarian.

Those who are pale, weak, super skinny etc. are like that due to not eating much/any food at all. It’s not down to cutting out a single item of food.

3. People are only vegetarian for ethical purposes (In other words, we do it as we think it’s “wrong to kill animals for food”)

You’ll find more people doing it for health, environmental and religious purposes rather than to “save the animals”. Nevertheless, ethical reasons are still an important factor for many vegetarians. Alot of people just don’t feel comfortable eating meat after realizing how it got there

4. All we eat is salad
Vegetarians [including myself] aren’t necessarily big salad fans, meaning we don’t each it much if not at all. We’re vegetarians not rabbits

5. We eat fish. If we don’t, we are no longer vegetarian, but vegan
Meat is defined as flesh that comes from an animal, making fish another subgroup of meat, those who call themselves vegetarian but still eat fish are not vegetarian.
By definition, they are Pescatarians, something that has no relation to vegetarianism. Vegans don’t eat meat [including fish] AND animal products [dairy, eggs, honey etc.] while most vegetarians still do. Calling vegetarians vegans because they don’t eat fish just shows how little people generally know about vegetarianism.

6. We are generally unhealthy
We actually have lower risks of getting heart disease, high levels of cholesterol, blocked arteries or even certain types of cancer by not eating red meat and have lower risks of getting mercury poisoning by not eating canned tuna [to name a few], so if anything we are healthier than those who do eat meat as our risks of getting the things listed above are significantly lower.
Here’s a question to those who think eating meat’s healthier:
Why are millions of doctors ordering so many of their patients to lay off things like red meat if “it’s good for you”?

Vegetarians are more health conscious. We simply don’t care about “how good it tastes” because in the long run, we know it won’t benefit us. We realize that we’re contributing to a longer healthier life rather than possibly shortening it by something like a “sudden” heart attack


January 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

The Lou Jing Situation

A few months ago, a lot of speculation was made about Lou Jing, a 20 year old Chinese student from Shanghai who entered a Chinese talent show called Let’s Go! Oriental Angel. What gave her the attention in China was not necessarily her talent, it was her skin colour; The attraction from it reportedly made her one of the most famous talent show contestants in China, and she didn’t even win the show.

Lou grew up in China her whole life, meaning she speaks fluent Shanghai and Mandarin chinese. On the show, it was revealed that her mother had an affair with an African American man, resulting in the conception of Lou. Many chinese blogs and forums blew up with insults towards Lou and [mainly] her mother as a result. Some gave Lou the name 小黑鬼 (xiaoheigui) meaning “little black devil” [click here for more comments made about her]

It exposed the narrow minds of many Chinese people and how bigotry is still very much alive in the country during the 21st century. However, as racist as the whole outcome has been, people [especially those criticizing the issue] must remember two main things

1. Lou Jing’s Father
On the internet, many Chinese people used this as an example to justify the stereotype that black men abandon women once they’re pregnant, leaving them to to single mothers. While there is some truth in that, men of other races do the same thing, however it’s highlighted more in black men. In the case of Lou Jing’s father, he left China with no idea that he’d gotten her mother pregnant, meaning he probably still doesn’t know of Lou’s existence

2. Such racism does not only occur in China
As distasteful and offensive as the comments were again Lou and her mother, there are just as many [if not more] people who have the exact same views as those Chinese commenters outside of China. When hearing her story a lot of people seem to forget that such racist views are apparent everywhere. There are people in almost every country who feel the same way about people who are black, mixed or any other race/ethnicity that isn’t the same as theirs. Perhaps what’s given China so much attention on it is the fact that they don’t have a long history discriminating against black or mixed people compared to places like Britain or the United States.

People must also remember that not all Chinese people were against Lou Jing’s racial mix.
She had support from alot of Chinese people aswell as her friends, professors and Chinese journalists. One author even wrote on their blog:

In the same year that Americans welcome Obama to the White House, we can’t even accept this girl with a different skin colour.

– Hung Huang –

China isn’t the first, and definitely won’t be the last country to express such racist views in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Lou, it was the first time she experienced any racial hatred in her life. With such a story, people should also remember that the same views are also felt by those in their countries of residence, not just in the country of question.

Lou Jing’s story [in more detail]:
http://abagond.wordpress.com/2009/09/29/lou-jing/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lou_Jing

An opinion from another perspective [this person is the same mix as Lou Jing]:
http://african-chineseguy.blogspot.com/2009/09/lou-jing-sad-story-of-black-chinese.html

January 7, 2010 at 10:12 pm 2 comments

Chimamanda Adichie: The Danger of A Single Story

The video that inspired my last post:

January 2, 2010 at 1:06 pm Leave a comment

The Dangers of a Single Story

Single stories are everywhere. They are one sided stories that give people the wrong idea about a certain place, thing or group of people.
What makes them such an issue is that they create stereotypes. Instead of highlighting how similar people or places are they highlight the differences. We have all believed a single story at one point in our lives, some of us still do.

My Grandmother believed a single story when she left St. Lucia for the UK. People there convinced her she would have no difficulty getting a job, and that England was a wonderful place where the streets were literally paved with gold. Despite this, no one told her that England had areas below the poverty line and that most of the time she would be refused a job as the colour of her skin was an issue. One example of me personally believing a single story is when I went to America for the first time. I found it strange to see poor areas and homeless people living on the streets everyday as beforehand, I didn’t believe that such a thing existed in America. It was nothing like the way I’d seen/heard of it before.

While there’s some truth in single stories, they all have one thing in common, they leave important things out. A good example can be seen with the author Chimamanda Adichie. Raised in a Middle Class family in Nigeria, she decided to go to College in the US. When meeting her American room mate, she was surprised that Chimamanda could speak English so well, despite being told that English was Nigeria’s official language. She was surprised that Chimamanda knew how to use a stove as she didn’t think that such basic facilities existed in Africa. When she  asked if she could hear some of her “tribal music”, she was pretty surprised when Chimamanda pulled out her Mariah Carey CD.

Like mentioned before, single stories leave vital bits of information out, making it very similar to propaganda as they’re used to manipulate people into thinking a certain way about a various noun. In the case of a continent like Africa, vital bits of information are constantly left out. While it’s true that there are people there who suffer from things like AIDs, conflict and poverty this only happens to some of them, not everyone, (in the same way that AIDs and poverty only affect some people in Britain and the United States rather than the whole nation). What’s left out is the fact that there are just as many there with average lives. There are middle class people who work and do things like drink coffee and read newspapers daily just like their counterparts in places like America, however many people will never know or believe this due to them hearing single stories that leave all these factors out.

While we all can’t control what is being said in these single stories, we can control whether to believe them or not. We also have the choice to look more into the topic and find out those vital parts of information that are being left out.
There are two sides to every story, in the case of a single story, we have to option to hear that other side and know the truth rather than one’s misconceptions.

January 2, 2010 at 1:04 pm Leave a comment

How Christmas has Changed Over The Years

This article was originally written for my school newspaper, so it’s longer than my normal ones

Being the 18th of December can only mean one thing…CHRISTMAS IS A WEEK AWAY!! This time of year usually means one thing for the most of us, buying the right presents, spending time with relatives and well, getting stuffed of course =). But what does Christmas mean these days? Do people see it as a chance to see relatives, or is it really just about the presents? How did people celebrate it in the past?

As most of us know, Christmas was originally celebrated to commemorate the birth of Jesus (even though he technically wasn’t born in that month, it was more around September). The word comes from the compound Cristemaesse, which translates to “Christ’s Mass” or “Mass of Christ”. It’s celebrated by Christians in many ways; the most common being a Nativity play, which retells the story of Jesus’ birth. It’s made up of Mary, Joseph, Three Kings, shepherds and random farm animals like donkeys and sheep, all happening in a barn with nothing but Jesus’ crib and a tone of straw.

Until a few years ago, I went to Catholic schools all my life, so I’ve done at least 4 or 5 Nativity plays in primary (One of my earliest memories was being a shepherd in Reception) so the whole nativity idea is normal to me like millions of other Christians.

Despite this, people have still made a few attempts in the past to make sure it wasn’t celebrated. Whether it was Oliver Cromwell and his Puritans cancelling of Christmas in 18th century England [according to HISTORY.COM], or pilgrims outlawing Christmas in Boston, a lot of extremist groups have wanted to abolish Christmas. The Puritans even put a fine on anyone found celebrating Christmas. Fortunately, these ideas failed miserably, this one you might not know about.

It turns out that during his dictatorship, Hitler literally tried to take the Christ out of Christmas. With Anti-Semitic carols and toy grenades hanging from trees, A Nazi Christmas wouldn’t be complete without glittering swastikas (…of course). He even replaced the star on Christmas trees with a sun, just in case people would get it confused with the Star of David. Though Hitler tried to weaken the power of the church, it didn’t work; neither did his aim of Nazi Christmas dominating the world].

Around the same time of those failed attempts, Charles Dickens created the tale Scrooge or a Christmas Carol, which as you probably know, is all about the importance of giving to others. It was a hit in England and America and showed some people the benefits of celebrating it. The focus was less on baby Jesus and more on general goodwill to humans. This eventually evolved into families splashing on presents for their kids without looking like they were being spoiled. (That probably explains why so many of us cared about presents when we were little) Aspects like these became part of modern day Christmas traditions that we are familiar with today.

Christmas became more commercialized soon afterwards; with Christmas now, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I mention people rushing to the shops to get those last few gifts for the family. Jesus was no longer the only figure associated with Christmas; the other one became the bearer of all gifts, Father Christmas, or Santa.

As popular as these factors are today, they don’t have a connection to everyone. Many people follow religions like Judaism, Islam or Jehovah’s Witness, so they don’t celebrate or even recognize Christmas. If people in America use the term Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas to respect that, shouldn’t more be done for people of those beliefs? If the Swiss were allowed to vote against minarets in case they “spread the influence of Islam”, should the same technically be done for Christmas in case it “spreads the influence of Christianity”?

Even for those who celebrate Christmas, originally Santa didn’t have a connection to kids or even gift bearing. On top of that, we all know he’s not real, so is it fair to associate him with Christmas when he doesn’t appeal to all kids? Is it right to make them believe in something that has no connection to the real meaning of Christmas? Is he there to up their spirits about the holiday or to make them more materialistic so that big corporate companies make more money?

I’m not saying that it should be cancelled; I just think that the commercialism should be toned down a bit. Even as someone who celebrates Christmas, I personally don’t want to be bombarded with endless ads of unnecessary things like a singing reindeer or tacky decorations.

Nevertheless, Christmas has come a long way. It’s gone from being completely banned to becoming a holiday that’s recognized almost worldwide. Although it’s originally about the birth of Jesus, even those who don’t believe in him have their own way of celebrating. While some still believe in the pagan ideas of the 17th century, thankfully it’s not enough for the influence to be spread worldwide. As commercialized and materialistic as it can be, the true meaning of Christmas hasn’t been forgotten. Each year millions of Christians celebrate his birth at the same time millions of kids patiently wait with milk and biscuits for Father Christmas to give them their gifts, even though he’ll never come (…I wonder how their parents will break it to them).

Personally, my parents didn’t have to tell me he wasn’t real. The older I got, the more I got freaked out by the idea of a fat, middle aged white man in a red suit coming into my house when I was sleeping.

December 18, 2009 at 7:02 pm Leave a comment

The Proof Is In The Pudding

After writing the “OMG White Beauty!!” post a while ago, a had a few people thinking that such things going on in certain minorities didn’t happen. They didn’t feel that the things I went into brief detail of was “hard evidence” that these things went on
….Well here’s the hard evidence. This Channel 4 Documentary focuses on people from various ethnic groups trying to look more whiter in appearence, as they feel it is more attractive and more acceptable. However it’s not just media based. If you watch the video you’ll see them explain other things that have happened to them in the past [and even now] that make them want to Westernize their appearence.
By watching this, I hope that people try to stop it rather than encourage this kind of thing to carry on.

Remember, the media’s idea of beauty does NOT correspond with my own. [i.e light skin, light eyes, long hair etc].
I do not wish to be white or look more Western in appearance because that’s not the way I naturally am.
As insecure as I can be, it has NO RELATION to my race. Out of all the things I’ll be unhappy about appearance wise, that will not be one of them.

While I think there is nothing wrong with those features, I don’t think it defines beauty as a whole. Yes that can be beautiful too, but beauty comes in every colour, race, hair texture, eye shape, body shape etc. I just wish the people in this documentary could realise that and love themselves the way they naturally are.

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhbwgeAR5mddmM0c3m

December 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment

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